ASIA NEWS NETWORK
WE KNOW ASIA BETTER
Publication Date : 25-10-2012
Almost a year after P.F. Chang opened its first Southeast Asian location at Alabang Town Centre in Metro Manila, people behind the US restaurant chain are introducing meals and deals designed to give diners more options and value for their money.
Archie Rodriguez, CEO of Global Restaurant Concepts Inc., the company exclusively representing P.F. Chang in the Philippines, recently launched flavours of Asia, Cheers and Lunch Meals.
Like the rest of the items on the menu, these three new offerings were developed and approved by the restaurant chain’s American owners.
“Our dishes are absolutely faithful to what they serve in the US,” said Rodriguez. “Everything we do is approved and standardised according to their standards. For us, following the formula is the only way to go because that’s what has made us fall in love with the brand to begin with.”
In keeping with P.F. Chang’s positioning as a nontraditional pan-Asian bistro (as opposed to a traditional Chinese restaurant), flavours of Asia is another attempt at giving traditional dishes a modern twist.
The Orange Peel Beef and Northern-style Spare Ribs were inspired by Sichuan and Beijing, respectively. The former is made with prime US Angus beef tossed with mild chili sauce and fresh orange peel, while the latter is P.F. Chang’s version of wok-braised ribs served with the restaurant chain’s exclusive five-spice salt rub.
Apart from dishes inspired by various regions in China, “reinvented favourites” include dishes influenced by Korea, Japan, Singapore and even the Philippines.
Dragon Wings, for instance, consist of crispy Korean-style chicken wings smothered either with mildly spicy Korean chili or Mongolian sweet sauce.
Japanese inspiration is evident in Seared Ahi Tuna, P.F. Chang’s innovation of sushi-grade Ahi tuna served chilled with spicy mustard, vinaigrette and fresh mixed green. Singapore Street Noodles, a gluten-free dish, combines shrimp, chicken, vegetables and rice noodles in a curry sauce.
“The only thing we think of localising are the ingredients, but only if their quality is on par. If they’re below standard, we won’t settle for anything less,” said Rodriguez.
What about Filipino inspiration? Instead of berries, Rodriguez and his team were allowed by their American principals to use Philippine mangoes for the Mango Cream Cheese Wontons, one of P.F. Chang’s signature desserts.
P.F. Chang is also introducing cocktail drinks to go with all that food as it launches Cheers, its extended version of the happy hour from 4pm until closing time, Monday to Friday.
Best-selling drinks formulated by P.F. Chang’s leading bar tenders in the US make their debut in the Philippines. They include such classics with novel names as Key Lime Pie Martini, Forbidden City, Royal Poolside, Asian Pear Mojito, Coconut Lemon Sour, Sichuan Mary and Jade Martini.
“Happy hour is a standard practice in P.F Chang’s branches in the US and in various parts of the world,” said Rodriguez. “We purposely didn’t introduce it when we first opened because we wanted to focus on the food first. We wanted to ensure quality. Now that we feel we’re ready, we’re slowly beginning to introduce other offerings.”
Despite P.F. Chang’s happy hour, Rodriguez assures customers that the restaurant will always remain a wholesome family destination.
“The nice thing about Filipinos in general is we’re careful of our surroundings,” he said. “We’re mindful of what we do, especially if there are children around.”
And, finally, for its lunchtime office crowd, Rodriguez has come up with Lunch Deals (11am .to 4pm). Such items as Beef a la Sichuan, Almond & Cashew Chicken, Sweet & Sour Chicken, Philip’s Better Lemon Chicken, Sweet & Sour Pork and Shrimp with Cantonese Sauce also happen to be among P.F. Chang’s best-selling dishes in its regular menu.
Positioning P.F. Chang locally as a family restaurant was something its American owners initially didn’t understand. In the US, the restaurant is more popular among small groups, especially pairs out for lunch or dinner.
“They oversaw the construction of our first location, which strictly followed P.F. Chang’s look,” said Rodriguez. “They also insisted that we get more two-top tables (tables for two) instead of the bigger four-top tables. When I explained to them that two-top tables wouldn’t work in the Philippines, they didn’t believe me.”
The Americans ultimately did when they saw for themselves P.F Chang’s ATC staff joining two-top tables to accommodate groups as big as 16. They were also impressed, said Rodriguez, with the pace of development in the Philippines every time they visited.
“Manila’s skyline kept on changing with their every visit,” he said. “They probably hadn’t seen such growth anywhere else in the world.”
Two things went in Global Restaurant Concept’s favour, which enabled Rodriguez to bag the deal to exclusively represent P.F. Chang after a three-year negotiation: the company’s solid track record in running California Pizza Kitchen and other properties; and the Philippines’ attractive growth potential.
One thing is sure. Rodriguez and company won’t make the same mistake of ordering too many two-top tables when they open a second P.F. Chang in Bonifacio Global City before the year ends. Apart from their preference for good food and great deals, Filipinos love to dine in big groups.